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Boris Johnson struggles to win support for British PM’s comeback bid, Sunak enters the race

Boris Johnson struggles to win support for British PM’s comeback bid, Sunak enters the race
  • Sunak has officially announced that he will run as a candidate
  • The first poll will take place on Monday
  • Johnson supporters say he can get the ballot
  • It’s clear that Sunak tops the legislators

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson was battling on Sunday to get enough support to make a surprise comeback for Britain’s prime minister after leading figures in the right-wing Conservative Party gathered around the man accused of betraying Rishi Sunak. .

Sunak, the 42-year-old former finance minister, confirmed Sunday that he would enter the competition to replace Liz Truss, vowing to tackle the country’s “deep economic crisis” with “integrity, professionalism and accountability”.

“I want to reform our economy, unite our party, and provide aid to our country,” said Sunak, the man accused by Johnson’s supporters of ending his previous three-year term in office.

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Sunak resigned from the government in July, leading to an unprecedented ministerial rebellion against Johnson.

The front-runner’s announcement challenges Johnson, who has returned from vacation in the Caribbean in a bid to secure the support of 100 MPs to take part in Monday’s ballot.

During his earlier time in Downing Street, he was supported by many different factions in the party, including the right-wing factions that led Brexit.

But this time, many of Johnson’s former supporters have said he should step down, suggesting the country needs stability after the six-week chaos in the power of Truss triggered turmoil in financial markets, hurting the value of the pound.

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Johnson also still faces a concessions committee investigation into whether he misled Parliament about Downing Street parties during the COVID-19 lockdowns. He may be forced to resign or suspended from office if found guilty.

“This is not the time for Boris’ style,” Steve Baker, an influential right-wing lawmaker who supports Sunak, told Sky News. “I’m afraid the problem will be due to voting privileges, Boris will be a guaranteed disaster.”

Britain entered another leadership battle after Truss was forced to resign when its extreme economic policies drove up borrowing costs and mortgage rates at a time when energy and food bills were soaring.

Sunak, Johnson and former Secretary of Defense Penny Mordaunt are in a major struggle to become the nation’s fifth prime minister in six years.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer said the battle at the head of the Conservative Party had been a “chaotic and funny circus” and that his focus was on the millions of Britons struggling to pay their bills.

The leader of the Labor Party, along with other opposition parties, called for national elections.

deep unpopular

The prospect of Johnson’s return is a polarizing issue for many in the divided Conservative Party, while his popularity also waned among voters before he was forced to step down.

For some lawmakers, he’s a vote-winner, capable of attracting his celebrity image and upbeat brand across the country. For others, he is a toxic figure who may fail to unite the party and thus may undermine efforts to build stable leadership to calm turbulent financial markets.

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Secretary of State James Cleverly backed Johnson on Sunday, saying he had “learned lessons from his tenth tenure and will ensure a focus on the country’s needs from day one.”

Nevertheless, Sunak continued to consolidate his lead among lawmakers. Sky News expressed support for 140 ads, while Johnson was in 59. About 130 lawmakers have not announced it publicly.

If selected, Sunak would be the UK’s first Indian Prime Minister.

His family immigrated to Britain in the 1960s, a period when many former British colonies arrived to help rebuild the country after World War II.

After graduating from Oxford, he later went to Stanford University where he met his wife Akshata Murthy, whose father was Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, founder of outsourcing giant Infosys.

Sunak first attracted national attention when at the age of 39 he became Johnson’s chancellor as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Britain, where he developed a furlough scheme to support millions of people through multiple lockdowns.

“I have acted as your advisor, helping to guide our economy through the most difficult times,” Sunak said in a statement on Sunday. “The challenges we face now are greater. But the opportunities – if we make the right choice – are enormous.”

Despite polls showing Sonak more popular in the country, he remains deeply unpopular with large portions of party members after they blamed him for Johnson’s ouster.

Under accelerated competition rules, if only one candidate has the support of 100 Conservative MPs, they will be appointed prime minister on Monday.

If two of the candidates cross the threshold, they will go ahead with a vote for party membership, with the winner announced on Friday, just days before Treasury Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce the country’s financial health on Oct. 31.

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The Telegraph reported that Johnson would not remove Hunt.

Johnson’s supporters say he has the support of more than 100 lawmakers, but many remain silent as they still hold government jobs.

One supporter, James Dodridge, said Johnson spoke to his supporters on Sunday and was “in good shape” and well dressed.

So far none of the three candidates has provided any details about the policies they will adopt if they become prime minister.

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Reporting from Kate Holton. Editing by Paul Sandel and Toby Chopra

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.